Why Interactive Dog Toys Are Fun
Interactive dog toys are a great way to add some mental stimulation to your dog’s playtime. These toys go beyond the simple chew toy or plush, adding elements that engage your dog’s curious and active mind.
Kyjen makes a wonderful line of “Hide-A” toys. These plush toys are made up of a large unit into which three smaller units with squeakers can be placed through several openings. There is a bird house with three birds, a beehive with bees, and a tree stump with squirrels. Seasonal toys are also available. Kyjen also makes “Egg Babies” with several squeaky eggs which are placed inside a larger plush animal toy.
Dogs have different ways of playing with these toys. One of my dogs likes to shake them so that the small units fly out in all directions. The other likes to pull them out and place them to the side. Most dogs don’t need to be shown how to play with these toys, once they watch you put the smaller units into the larger one.
Other interactive toys are a bit more complex. The Dog Magic Interactive Treat Game by Nina Ottosson is a tray on which bone-shaped cups cover wells into which you place treats. The dog must then figure out how to remove the cups to extract the tasty treat. There are quite a few other puzzle type toys available for dogs as well.
Interactive toys aren’t new. The classic Kong is an interactive toy, since it keeps your dog busy consuming whatever treats you have placed inside. It and similar products are now available in a variety of sizes and shapes. Planet Dog sells treat stuffers shaped like fruit and light bulbs.
When using interactive toys which involve food, don’t forget to include them in your dog’s daily calorie count. Many owners simply use a portion of the dog’s regular food for this purpose.
Dogs need mental stimulation as much as they do physical activity. Interactive toys provide this and reduce boredom, which can be a problem for dogs who must spend time home alone. They also provide entertainment to owners. What’s more fun than watching a happy dog at play?
NR Tomasheski is a dog trainer who spent seven years as co-owner of a canine daycare, boarding, and grooming facility in Sherman Oaks, California. She has competed with her own dogs in agility, obedience, and rally.